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The ListenUp Scarf

Cynthia Hilmoe

For a young teenage girl, the ListenUp Scarf is a canvas for self-expression and a reminder of her community of support. She collects snippets of conversations with the scarf and shares them in unconventional ways.

http://itp.nyu.edu/blogs/cdh263_spr08/category/2008-spring-show/

Classes Sustainable Energy,Wearables Studio

For a young teenage girl, the ListenUp Scarf is a canvas for self-expression and a reminder of her community of support. The two scarves, the winter version wired with audio and the summer version wired with light components, help her explore different forms of self-expression and build her self-esteem. In the summer, LED lamps magically produce a gentle glow as night falls, a reminder that she can light up a room with her personality. In the winter, she collects snippets of conversations with the scarf and shares them in unconventional ways. Because the scarf is all about voice, she will always think of it as a metaphor for speaking her truth. The scarves harken to her childhood security blanket while helping her grow into her next skin – that of a confident young woman.

The winter scarf is equipped with hacked Radio Shack 20-second audio modules controlled from an Arduino LilyPad microprocessor. Two soft-switches are dedicated to record and playback functions, respectively. Soft circuit technology is used to position the switches in one end of the scarf and the speaker and microphone in the opposite end. The summer version is equipped with solar powered, nocturnal LED pummers (BEAM circuitry). A pink and green palette is carried across lightweight fabric for summer and fleece for winter. Ornamentation includes charms that spell out “SPEAK” and “LISTEN,” matching tassels and trimming.

Fixture courtesy of Restoration Antiques, 109 East 12th St, New York, NY 10003.


Audience
Teenage Girls, around 11-14 years old

User Scenario
As the young teenage girl stands in the kitchen wrapped in the scarf, her Mom grabs a dangling tassel to record an encouraging message her daughter can listen to later in the day. Gesturing theatrically with her scarf, the young girl operates the embedded audio modules and microprocessor to her friends’ delight, and to her own astonishment, finds a side of her she barely knew. A girlfriend enlists her as an ambassador to carry a message to a crush and retrieve a reply. Feelings she would ordinarily find too hard to share come more easily when she can deliver them through the scarf.

Because the scarf is all about voice, she thinks of it as a metaphor for speaking her truth. Soft, stylish and fashionable, she thinks of the scarf as harkening to her childhood security blanket while helping her grow into her next skin – that of a confident young woman.

The scarf creates memories of support and love she’s received and fun and friendships she’s experienced. At night it sparkles, as if celebrating who she is!